Hip-Hop as culture-Elizabeth Bassett
Prior to reading the assigned literature of the week and the panel discussion, I had thought of hip-hop and rap as two separate genres of music with little social implications. To me, rap and hip-hop were mainly music of the black community, music that characters such as Doughboy from Boyz ‘N the Hood would have enjoyed. With the readings and seeing Milena Riviere and Alexs Pate, however, my opinions on the topic were highly modified.
Throughout this course, we have been focusing on countercultures and groups such as the hippies and others who have defied culture norms. As hip-hop itself represents counterculture ideas of going against the mainstream, I now see the relevance of this topic in relation to this course. I thought it was fascinating when Alexs Pates spoke of hip-hop as being a culture in and of itself. Then, Milena Riviere went on to talk about how rap and graffiti are elements of hip-hop instead of separate identities. Riviere discussed how rap is the literature of the culture as it represents the words and thoughts to listeners. Thinking of graffiti, the panel discussion opened my eyes to the idea behind this artform. Initially, I had thought graffiti to simply be a form of vandalism that held artistic value when painted on a proper surface. Now, I realize that it is a sign of possession of a territory within the hip-hop culture.
Another eye-opening element that was revealed on the panel was women’s place in the culture of hip-hop. Now, as I reflect on this, I recognize the lack of female hip-hop artists commonly seen in American society today. The few female artists that have managed to make names for themselves have done so by fitting in to a stereotype of who the mainstream wishes them to be. One of the best examples of this is Beyonce who has molded into the goddess of beauty and sensuality due to the effects of the mainstream expectations. This in and of itself is defiant of hip-hop in its ideals of going against the mainstream and popular culture. Instead, it sends the message that males are able to do anything they want, while females are forced to stay within specified lines of behavior.